Restoring Kenya’s most threatened forests

Lindsay Biermann (LEAF)

Across the world, natural ecosystems are becoming increasingly degraded and fragmented. As a consequence, preservation of remaining intact habitats is likely to be insufficient for many species. Instead, the United Nations has identified restoring wild places as a global priority in its upcoming decade on ecosystem restoration.

In response to this, former Bournemouth Life and Environmental Sciences alumnus, Lindsay Biermann, has helped found the Little Environmental Action Foundation (LEAF for short) alongside thirteen fellow young conservationists. LEAF’s mission is to restore some of the most threatened ecosystems across the tropics, whilst using research-driven approaches and 100% native species.

LEAF’s first project is focused on cultivating and planting indigenous trees in coastal Kenya. Situated in the East African Coastal Forest Biodiversity hotspot, this project aims to save the region’s endemic trees that are all predicted to go extinct by 2050 without intervening action. LEAF is working in partnership with Pwani University to recover seeds, grow seedlings and plant out these threatened endemic species around fragments of ancient forest sites called relics. These relics are incredibly important to the future of this region, as currently 96% of native trees have been lost to monoculture plantations and farming.

Using research and expertise, LEAF has begun by employing local graduates and implementing ex situ conservation on the university grounds. From here, we plan to expand our efforts to plant trees close to pre-existing relict sites, educate local people on how to protect these forests and show why their ecosystem services are invaluable. By focusing on native tree species, we aim to increase the survival rates of planted trees and also the long-term recovery of these forests. Collaborative research with university students is also helping to maximise survival rates by studying salt and drought tolerance, as well as optimal planting times.

LEAF is set to officially launch in National Tree week running from 28th November to 6th December. As part of the launch, LEAF is aiming to raise funds to build a new seedling nursery that can propagate and grow rare and endangered tree species. From these donations, LEAF hope to transform the nursery to provide sufficient capacity for future forest restoration projects.

The LEAF charity is remains in its infancy but has ambitious plans to expand its restoration work into ten countries by 2030. Potential projects in Rwanda and India have already been identified, whilst a UK-based school outreach programme is being developed. If you would like to learn more about LEAF’s work, visit their website – www.theleafcharity.com – or follow them on social media @wearetheleaf.

First trees planted in Pwani University

Predicting the dispersal and invasiveness of non-native freshwater fishes

Victoria Dominguez Almela

PhD at BU looking at the impact of invasive fish species and predicting their dispersal with the final goal of developing appropriate environmental management measures. This project covers the study of the dispersal mechanisms of invasive species using individual based models (IBMs), GIS mapping and R-based analysis.

The results from my first chapter revealed the importance of modelling to improve our understanding on invasive species and it predicted the dispersal dynamics of a non-native fish species using a combination of IBM and approximate Bayesian computation (Dominguez Almela et al, 2020).

Following this study, I used IBMs to predict how invasive species can be optimally managed. Major extant knowledge gaps in trade-offs between management effort and invasion outcomes were overcome, demonstrating that eradication of invaders is possible, but requires substantial management efforts (unpublished Dominguez Almela et al).  A complementary study looking at the landscape context specifically is under work now.

A final aspect of my work includes an empirical study assessing the ‘dispersal-enhancing’ traits of bitterling (non-native freshwater fish) in their invasion range to quantify the importance of trait plasticity in driving natural rates of diffusion. Progress to date has included completion of swimming performance and functional response experiments for these fish.

Left image: Assessing swimming performance on fish by using flumes based at Cardiff University

Right image: Picture 2. Sampling fish on the Gt Ouse River with the Environment Agency

World Ocean Day 2020

Happy #WorldOceanDay, a day to celebrate our wonderful oceans and all the biodiversity that calls the ocean their home. Our oceans are so diverse, but we would like to focus on a fascinating species today:The Atlantic Salmon! Have a go at our poster, where you can learn the life cycle of the salmon and colour them in! Please share any completed activity sheets with us (drop us a message!) We love to hear from you 🙂

Atlantic Salmon Activity Sheet Answers

Here are the answers for the our ‘World Ocean Day 2020’ colouring sheet:

The figure has been adapted from:

Kryvi, H., Rusten, I., Fjelldal, P.G., Nordvik, K., Totland, G.K., Karlsen, T., Wiig, H. and Long Jr, J.H., 2017. The notochord in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) undergoes profound morphological and mechanical changes during development. Journal of anatomy, 231(5), pp.639-654.

Fab Five: Week 4 Answers

Week Commencing 13/04/2020

Species 1: Manatee

1.What do I eat?

I am a herbivore and most of my diet is made up of different types of grass

2. Where do I live?

There are 3 different species of manatee, which is distinguished by where I live. The West Indian manatee ranges along the North American east coast from Florida to Brazil. The Amazonian manatee species inhabit the Amazon River and the African manatee swims along the west coast and rivers of Africa.

3. How large do I get?

I can grow up to 8-13 ft!

Species 2: Leopard

1.Am I diurnal or nocturnal?

I am mainly nocturnal

2. Where do I live?

I can be found in Africa and Asia, from the Middle Eastern nations to Russia, Korea, China, India and Malaysia

3. Do I like spending time on my own or in group?

I like spending time on my own as I am a solitary animal

Species 3: Hummingbird Hawkmoth

1.How big is my wingspan?

My wingspan is around two inches

2. Where do I live?

I spend the winter in Southern Europe and the summer in the U.K.

3. What do I like to eat?

I feed on the nectar of honeysuckle, red valerian and other flowers

Species 4: Dodo

1.What did I eat?

My diet included seeds, nuts, bulbs, roots and fallen fruit. I would also feed on palm fruit, shell fish and crabs

2. What Island did I live on?

I only lived on the island of Mauritius

3. When did I go extinct?

I went extinct in 1681

Species 5: Deer

1.What do I eat?

I am herbivorous, I only eat plants! This includes plants such as grass, bark, twigs, berries and young shoots

2. What do I use my antlers for?

I use my antlers for fighting with other males

3. How big can I grow up to?

I can grow up to 2 metres in length

Fab Five: Week 3 Answers

Week Commencing 06/04/2020

Species 1: Atlantic salmon

1.What do I eat?

I eat insects, invertebrates and plankton when I am young

2. What do you think I find on my journey to the sea and back?

I swim out to the Atlantic into rich feeding grounds. I primarily feed on fish such as capelin, herring and sand eel.

3. How large do I get?

I can grow up to 28-30 inches after two years at sea.

Species 2: African elephant

1.How big do I grow up to?

I can grow up to 8-13 feet from shoulder to toe!

2. Why do I need to cover myself in mud and dust (apart from it being fun!)?  

I cover myself in mud as it acts as a natural sun cream and stops me from getting burnt

3. What is the name of a female elephant that leads a group of elephants?

She is called a Matriarch

Species 3: Tardigrade

1.How big am I?

I range from 0.3 to 0.55 mm in length, although the largest species may reach 1.2mm

2. Where do I live?

I can be found in almost everywhere on earth. I am often found on lichens and mosses because that’s where I like the most

3. What do I like to eat?

I feed on plant and animal cells. Some of us are known to eat entire live organisms (microbes of course) such as rotifers.

Species 4: Velociraptor

1.What did I eat?

I was a carnivore that hunted and scavenged for food. I spent a lot of time eating small things which included reptiles, amphibians, insects, small dinosaurs and mammals

2. When did I live on the earth?

Fossils of me have been found in the Gobi Desert

3. Where was my first fossil found?

My first fossil was found in Mongolia in 1924!

Species 5: Indian Hornbill

1.What do I eat?

I love to eat fruit! My diet mainly consists of fruit, insects and small mammals  

2. Which countries do I live in?

I can be found in the forest of India, Bhutan, Mainland Southeast Asia, Sumatra and North eastern region of India!

3. How big can I grow?

I grow up to 95-120cm!

Orca

“Colour me in so I can swim!

Happy #MarineMonday everyone! I am an Orca, but often referred to as a Killer Whale. I am the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. I send sound waves that travel underwater which is known as echolocation which I use for communicating to my friends and hunting. I have some questions for you:

  1. What do I eat?
  2. Where do I live?
  3. How large do I get?”

Deer

It is finally Friday, and we would like to celebrate our followers by taking species requests on #FollowerFriday. Today’s public choice is a deer! 

“Colour me in so I can graze!

Happy Friday everyone. I am a deer and I am one of more than 40 species that can be found in most parts of the world. I have a great pair of antlers which shed and regrow every year. I am a male as I have these wonderful antlers but my female friend do not. I have some questions for you:

  1. What do I eat?
  2. What do I use my antlers for?
  3. How big can I grow to?”

Dodo

It’s #ThrowbackThursday and we would like to meet our old friend who just to live on Earth.

“Colour me in to preserve me!

Hello, I am a Dodo and I used to live on a lovely island. I am a large, chubby bird that used to live on the ground where I built my nests, as there were not natural predators here during the time I was around. Even though I had wings, I was unable to fly as they were too small to support my round body! I have some questions for you:

  1. What did I eat?
  2. What Island did I live on?
  3. When did I go extinct?”

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Happy hump day everyone! Today is #WeirdWildlifeWednesday and we would like you to meet our strange friend.

“Colour me in so I can carry fly!

Am I a moth or a bird? I am in fact a hummingbird hawkmoth, and I am a moth that looks like a hummingbird. I can fly up to 12 miles an hour with my very fast moving wings, and my wings can flap up to 70 times per second! I have some questions for you:

  1. How big is my wingspan?
  2. Where do I live?
  3. What do I like to eat?”